Luis Garcia: Messi, Barca philosophy responsible for Griezmann flop at Camp Nou

EXCLUSIVE Luis Garcia: Messi, Barca philosophy responsible for Griezmann flop at Camp Nou

Solace Chukwu 11:22 - 04.12.2023

Antoine Griezmann failed to show his best level at Barcelona, and former Blaugrana winger Luis Garcia believes the presence of Messi made it impossible for the Frenchman to shine.

Former Liverpool and Atletico Madrid forward Luis Garcia has laid the blame for Antoine Greizmann’s failure to ignite at Barcelona at the feet of Lionel Messi.

In 2019, French star Griezmann joined the Blaugrana from Atletico in a big-money transfer following a protracted saga. However, despite inspiring the France national team to glory at the World Cup a year prior, Griezmann was unable to replicate his outstanding form in the colours of Barcelona, only lasting two seasons before returning to Los Colchoneros.

The 32-year-old has since rediscovered his best level, and has been arguably one of the best performers in LaLiga this season. 

Garcia, a 2005 Champions League winner who spent his formative years and started his senior career at Camp Nou, told Pulse Sports that the presence of Lionel Messi rendered Griezmann’s class irrelevant during his brief stint at Barcelona. 

The 45-year-old began by extolling the Frenchman’s class, stating, “Griezmann is at an extraordinary level not just in la liga but internationally, one of the best players in the world right now. 

“He is mature – we can see how hard he works, not just technically. We know his capabilities, that he is one of the most talented players we can see today: he assists, he scores goals, he works hard.”

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Why then did it not work out at Barcelona for a player of his ability?

“I think that when Griezmann got to Barcelona, they tried to find a position for him on the pitch,” Garcia explained. “We saw how Griezmann played at Atletico Madrid. It’s a little bit like when he plays with France: he needs freedom. 

“He understands football on a different level. Sometimes i see him in matches and he gives passes that the player meant to receive the pass didn’t understand, because he’s on a different level to 80 per cent of the players. He sees football differently, and that needs freedom.

“When he is needed in defence, we see him go into defence, tackling and taking away the ball to start the counterattack, he waits to receive the ball… that was all much more complicated at Barcelona, because there was already a player that had that role: Lionel Messi. 

“He (Griezmann) had to be in a fixed position, as with most players at Barcelona. They play differently. The philosophy is that you have to maintain your position, and only certain players have freedom in the midfield. 

“There were other factors as well: the teammates, the competition in the club at that moment that might have had an effect, but I think that’s the reason. Griezmann needs that freedom that he didn’t have, because there was a kid called Lionel Messi, and if you have 2 or 3 players with that much freedom, the whole team gets disorganised and the team can suffer.”

Given licence under Diego Simeone at Atletico, Griezmann has helped Atletico to title contention, pitching in with 13 goals in 19 appearances in all competition so far this campaign. “Right now, Griezmann has the freedom: he plays in the middle, he plays out wide, he plays upfront. Because Simeone realises that Griezmann knows where he needs to be in each moment.”